Thursday, 13 September 2012

Polar Bear Run - 2009

Nice shirt, you say?  I know.  

Well, ole JJ hasn't been doing too many runs lately.  Those chairs aren't going to sit in themselves!  Am I right? But!  He has run some pretty good ones before he started OperationJJ.  So why not talk about one of those?!  While sitting!

Well exactly.  So! The year was 2008.  A young JJ...  Ok, still pretty old JJ...heard from his brother about a mythical run.  It is called the "Polar Bear Run".  It took place in the winter.  In fact it HAD to take place in the winter.  Why?  Because it was across a lake.  Lake Winnipeg, to be exact.  "What's that, JJ?  Lake Winnipeg?  The 12th (or possibly 13th? or 14th?  Every website I look at says different!) largest lake in the entire world?"

Yes, you are correct.  That one.  Although of course its not the long way from the bottom to the top.  It's from just south of Gimli to Grand Marais.  About 18 miles.  Here's a map!

No that is not my map!  Anyone who knows me knows that my writing is nowhere near as neat as that!  The route goes along a route that snowmobilers use each year.

Well, we figure we gotta do this.  Adventure!  My bro has the contact.  A dude named Jeff Badger.  Organizes the run every year.  We pony up our money and are ready to go!  Champing at the bit!

Sunday, March 15, 2009.  8:30ish am.  The west side of Lake Winnipeg.  Look! It's me and my bro!

What up, bitches.

We are ready to go!  And looking stylish!  Got the backpacks with gatorade and extra clothing.  And sunglasses!  Need sunglasses!  We don't wanna go snow-blind!

The Sky?  Sunny.  The temperature? Hovering around minus 10 celsius.  The lake is apparently in good shape.  The ice thick.  But just be careful around the two "pressure cracks"! What's a pressure crack, you ask?  That's what I said! Well, I'll tell you.  If a frozen-over body of water is big enough, cracks in the ice will develop where one massive piece of ice rubs separates from another piece of ice and rubs up against it.  All tectonic plate like.  And in warmer weather there is open water between the pieces. Which is all real cool, but a little nerve wracking to run over.  Particularly when later, as I am running with Jeff Badger (the man himself!) he tells me that one year he was heading back across the lake after one year's run on a snowmobile and lost his attached trailer when it fell into one of these cracks (Gulp!).

But hey!  We are here for adventure, right!?  That's what it's all about!

The "corral"! Sort of!  Not a race, just a run, so its all whatevs!

So...can we go? Did somebody say go?  I think we can go? Should we go? Ok let's go.  And we're off!

A gentle pace.  Don't wanna bonk in the middle of the lake!  Right?  So we just be-bop along.  A gorgeous day.  And it's really neat.  But one thing?  As neat as the idea of running across a frozen lake is, there is really not a heck of a lot going on on a frozen lake.  No bears.  No deer.  No squirrels.  Nothing.  Just white.  Everywhere you look.  Here's a video I took of my brother and his colleague Tom around the midpoint of the lake.  Nothing but white snow as far as the eye can see in every direction.

The pressure cracks are still all frozen.  No worries!

Keep running! Running on the snowmobile track isn't so bad.  Then with about 5k left, my bro says "hey, if you want to go ahead, that's cool with me."  Well, I am still feeling pretty strong, so I figure, ok, maybe I will just go super hard this last bit.  See how it goes.  Loosen the reins! Well I start going hard.  It is going ok, but when running hard, with each step my foot slips a bit in the snow.  For some reason when going slow it didn't affect me much, but going hard it is brutal.  I get about 2k and am pooped.  Then I see this.

Ok, I didn't really see that.  Just more snow.  Then, there's the finish.  Woo hoo!  Again with the informal nature or the run it's kinda weird at the end.  You just sort of get close to the shore, there's people milling around and you stop.  Here's my bro finishing.

I think I looked about the same.  We are not that expressive a family.

All in all, it was a really neat run.   In a weird way, the only criticism I would have of it would be one that is totally out of Jeff's control - the weather.  When I did it, the weather was so perfect that it kinda felt less "adventurous" than maybe it coulda?  When Jeff and I were running together, he told me about years where the weather was so cold that people were giving up a third of the way in and getting snowmobile rides back to the start line.  Now THAT would have been a test.  Sheesh.  Ugh, right? Isn't anything good enough for you, JJ!?  Ok, ok.  You are right.  It was awesome.

In fact I signed up to do it in 2010 as well, but the weather was too warm and he had to cancel it. So there!

Ok.  JJ outie!